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Miami 2019 men's final, Roger Federer vs John Isner: Preview and prediction

ANALYST
Preview
381   //    31 Mar 2019, 03:33 IST

The dust has settled over the field of Miami Open 2019. It is now down to two men; Roger Federer and John Isner will play the final on Sunday to decide who gets to hold one of the most prestigious trophies on the tour outside of the Grand Slams.

Before diving into the preview of the final, here is a look at a few players who had a promising tournament at this year's Miami Open.

David Ferrer

There are few sights as pleasing as David Ferrer celebrating his win over Alexander Zverev in the second round. The veteran is playing some fine tennis in the last leg of his career, and one can only hope that he leaves the sport on a high. Ferrer is a player who deserves a fairytale end if ever there was one.

Roberto Bautista Agut

Another veteran of the sport, who has found his stride in the latter half of his career, Roberto Bautista Agut delivered an absolutely brilliant performance to oust the World No. 1 Novak Djokovic in the fourth round here. He was not very far from causing another upset in the quarterfinal against Isner, but came up just short. Nevertheless, he is bound to build in confidence based on his time in Miami.

The younger lot

Youngsters including Denis Shapovalov, Stefanos Tsitsipas and Felix Auger-Aliassime displayed maturity in their performances during the tournament and have set a very high bar for any more newcomers into the sport.

Finals preview

Roger Federer will have to be on top of his return games and find a way to put pressure on Isner's serve.
Roger Federer will have to be on top of his return games and find a way to put pressure on Isner's serve.

There is little point in discussing the particulars of Federer's game at this point, but it is noteworthy that all the elements of his game have been looking good this fortnight. When on song, as he was in his semifinal against Shapovalov, there is little the opponent can do to avoid the inevitable.

The Swiss will go in this match expecting a couple of tie-breaks, and he might just want to be a tad extra careful considering Isner's record. The American has won 10 straight sets en route to the final here, nine of which involved tie-breaks. That is an extraordinary stat and if it comes down to a similar situation in the final, Isner will definitely draw a lot of confidence from his recent form in tie-breaks.

For John Isner it will come down to how much he wants to win this battle
For John Isner it will come down to how much he wants to win this battle

Isner will walk onto Centre Court with a lot of pressure, considering he is defending his title and crucial ranking points. Although he has had a nearly flawless week, the final hurdle might prove to be just a little too much this time around.

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Isner will definitely be sticking to his game-plan of serving well and taking things a notch higher in the tie-breaks in his bid to seal a victory. But if he can try and be more aggressive in his return games against Federer, it might help relieve some of the pressure off of his mind.

This match, unlike most of Isner's previous encounters, will be more of a mental battle with himself and his belief in emerging triumphant at Miami once again.

Prediction

I am really divided on this one; my instinct tells me that Isner wants this more than ever and that he has all the tools needed to come out with the goods here. And yet, the contest involves one of the all-time greats of the sport in form of Federer, who is playing at an exemplary level himself.

Federer will likely come into the match prepared with answers to all the questions that Isner will pose in the match. And once he hits his stride, Federer could very well run away with this one.

Isner will have to serve like his life depends on it if he has to stand any chance of winning. If he doesn't, Federer coming out on top of two (non-tiebreaker) sets is what the scoreline might read at the end of the match.

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